Rep. Mica: TSA 'Out of Control'

Saturday, 16 Apr 2011 07:19 PM

By Jim Meyers and Ashley Martella

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Rep. John Mica says the Transportation Security Administration has become a huge bureaucracy that has “spun out of control” and cries out for reform.

The Florida Republican, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, also says it makes no sense to hire additional air traffic controllers for night duty to deal with the problem of sleeping controllers.

Mica was first elected to the House in 1992, and as chairman of the Aviation Subcommittee he was a major force in the creation of the TSA following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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The TSA has recently come under criticism over disclosures about air traffic controllers falling asleep during overnight shifts. The FAA’s air traffic chief resigned and the FAA said it is placing additional controllers at 27 airports for overnight work — a move Mica opposes.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, he says: “I can only think of the federal government doubling up on $163,000-a-year average salary employee when one or two fall asleep at the job.

“It also doesn’t make any sense to schedule two employees when there’s no air traffic in the middle of the night.

“They could do a better job of scheduling, and if heads have to roll, so be it. They have to do a better job in managing employees.”

The TSA also sparked controversy when a 6-year-old girl in New Orleans was patted down by security personnel over her parents’ objection.

“The TSA is an agency that has spun out of control,” Mica declares.

“It should be focused on a very narrow number of people who pose a threat. And then I think the agency has to start being a thinking agency, actually get out of the screening business and get into the security and intelligence business where they can be the most effective.

“We’re shaking down little old ladies. We’re shaking down military, patting down children who don’t pose a risk, for goodness sakes. We should pick people out there who can make a better determination of who to go after, and we should have the information. It should be embedded in the ticket.

“These systems have been around. I’ve seen them tested and actually operating in other countries. Instead they create a huge 63,000-person army with 3,700 administrators in Washington, D.C., making on average of $105,000 apiece. The system absolutely cries out for reform.”

Mica said in December he tested the new technology for naked body scanners and in January tested new pat-down procedures “and I can tell you the results were dismal. Neither of these are effective.

“They should be looking for a limited number or people who pose a threat. They should be subject to thorough examination. Also the behavior detection program is a complete failure. We need to be training people to be looking for bad guys, and we should have intelligence that helps us get those folks even before they get to the gate.

“I was an advocate of using behavior [to screen passengers], not profiling by race or other ethnic measures.

“TSA has hired 3,300 additional people at a quarter of a billion dollars cost. The results that have been disclosed show that has been a failure too.”

Mica has stated that airports should be able to opt out of TSA screening and hire private screeners instead.

“I wrote a law to allow private screening under federal supervision and had five demonstration airports,” he tells Newsmax.

“Then we tested the all-federal [screeners] against the private screening with federal supervision. The model with private screening under federal supervision performed, the GAO said, significantly better. So why would you pay more to get less performance?

“The only countries in the West that are left with all-government models of screening like the United States has are Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland.”

But it is hard to change the TSA, he adds, because “it is a huge bureaucracy that is not very open to change. They’re protecting their turf. We have a system that cries out for reform.”

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